Dienhart: On The Penn State Tragedy

What’s unfolding at Penn State is one of the greatest tragedies in the history of collegiate sports.

The allegations that former Penn State defensive coordinator Jerry Sandusky sexually abused children are undoubtedly horrific and sickening. But even more disturbing is the revelation that people in a position of power didn’t do enough and alert authorities about the situation after being told of the alleged abuse.

Bottom line: Penn State seemed more interested in protecting its image than doing the right thing. The cost of that decision: The school’s good name.

This is an incident that will stain Penn State forever. All of those years of image building, of painting an idyllic picture of a staid university that plays by the rules and is nestled in a nirvana dubbed “Happy Valley” has been trashed in minutes. And the inaction of the main characters – Penn State president Graham Spanier, athletic director Tim Curley and coach Joe Paterno – will cost them all their reputations and possibly even more.

What about protecting the children who were abused? Who was speaking out for them? Who was looking out for their best interest? These men were leaders. And they failed miserably. Instead of riding off into a blaze of glory as the all-time winningest FBS coach, Paterno will punctuate his career with a black mark that never will go away.

Those 409 victories don’t seem so important now, do they? In fact, they almost seem trivial. Yes, Paterno has done a million good things and performed many good deeds during his 46-season run as head coach, but this sordid episode threatens to wash it all away.

Sad, but true.

Penn State's Joe Paterno

Associated Press

This is a coach who preached about building young men, of developing character, of doing the right thing. But when given a chance to do the right thing and tell legal authorities about what he knew when his bosses were doing nothing about it, Paterno dropped the ball. He failed morally. And that’s a million times worse than losing a Homecoming game.

So many of us are asking: “Why, JoePa? Why didn’t you do more? Was the pursuit of the all-time win record that important? Was the protection of his program’s image that vital? Or did you just not think it all the way through? And if not, why not?”

We may never know all the answers. And the ones we end up getting may either ring hollow or leave us asking more questions. Curley has requested a leave of absence. Reports indicate that Spanier is on the way out. And Paterno has announced that he will retire at the end of the season.


Even more unreal: A football game is scheduled for this Saturday at Penn State. Nebraska is coming to town. This looked like an important game as recently as just last week. Now, it’s insignificant.

Should it even be played? How can players and coaches focus on a game now? How can fans show up and shake a pom-pon for Penn State knowing what they know? Maybe out of respect for the victims and the families, the game should be postponed. Maybe the rest of Penn State’s season should be cancelled. That’s an epic decision, but we are witnessing an epic event.

This is a program and athletic department that has been rocked to the core by sickening allegations that have the entire nation white hot with rage.

Perhaps Penn State should focus on getting its house in order and not worry about playing football. Anywhere Penn State goes the rest of the season, this story will follow. But whatever you do, don’t weep for anyone other than the children and the families involved in this American tragedy. They had no choice in this matter.

Maybe the Penn State community, the Penn State family, should just spend the weekend honoring and thinking of them.

Tom Dienhart is a senior writer for BTN.com. Find all of his work at www.btn.com/tomdienhart, follow Dienhart on twitter at @BTNTomDienhart, and click here to subscribe to his RSS feed.


Your Opinion?
Show Comments (63 Comments)
Dan on 11/9/2011 @ 4:39pm EDT Said:

Really? Are you out of your mind? After all that these players, the seniors especially, have put up with this season, and you say they should cancel the game? On SENIOR DAY? I’m sorry but you people in the media need to get your stuff together. Focus on the real criminal here: Jerry Sandusky, and to a lesser extent, Tim Curly and Graham Spanier. But to continue to kick Joe, who legally did nothing wrong, while he’s down, is wrong by every stretch of the imagination. This is a matter of moral vs legal here. You cannot allow your moral views (no matter how right or wrong they be) skew the legal facts, and not let the Court of Public Opinion skew the reality of the situation. This is a great tragedy, and my prayers go out to the victims and their families, but I Seriously hope this team wins out and wins the Rose Bowl and shoves it all back in your faces and send Joe out the way he has always deserved to: A legend, and a champion.

michael steel on 11/9/2011 @ 4:44pm EDT Said:

You are misguided! You are no better than the rest of the media.
This is NOT about football. This is about one perverse man. Yet the media, AKA YOU, refuse to focus on the actual cause of all this. Instead you only care about bringing down a name that means more to Penn State than you will ever mean to anybody. We must separate this issue from football. The young men on the team who are taking the field on Saturday have nothing to do with this case. They are the innocent bystanders of a former coach whose actions affect the present.
Read this: http://www.blackshoediaries.com/2011/11/9/2548981/penn-state-scandal-jerry-sandusky-paterno-narrative-lazy-media

Scott Dickson on 11/9/2011 @ 4:59pm EDT Said:

Kudos Mr Tom, However, I am not sure that punishing the innocent is the right thing. I agree that Paterno should do the right thing and step down immediately, and so should the assistant coach or any other coaches that were aware of the incident. If this game is allowed to be played with Paterno at the helm then we are sending the wrong message. It is not the players fault or the community, but I believe they need to start rebuilding the faith in the institution. I believe that all coaches should be gone that were aware of the situation before the investigation. I believe that a fund should be opened up for contributions to be made for the victims or for an awareness program for any future incidents of abuse. All proceeds from the game should be put in a interest bearing pool to be awarded according to the victims. I believe this would be in the best interests of any and all victims that have come forward and those that have not! We cannot continue to condone these violations and hadle them lightly by just telling our superiors. We as people have a moral obligation to get the story to the proper authorities. Lets hope the school makes the right decision!

Daniel on 11/9/2011 @ 5:02pm EDT Said:

You both are misguided!! One, Don’t you dare to pretend that JoePed Protector did his duty by alerting his superior. You’re as sick as they are by taking a stance and allowing them to get away with turning their cheek on the whole damn thing. JoePed knew plenty, did little about it and now deserves to suffer immensely like those boys did. Get a hold of reality! Agreed that the players did nothing to deserve to have their season ruined over this but two coaches knew about it, how many others knew and weren’t named? These guys spend 12-14 hour days together checking out film, practicing and planning for the upcoming games, you think that stuff was kept quiet amongst all of them?

Randy w. on 11/9/2011 @ 5:02pm EDT Said:

Of course they shouldn’t play. The thought of the normal college campus pre-game tail-gating, cheering, all round celebratory atmosphere college football fans everywhere know and love is just sickening to contemplate with what we now know. And if Penn State doesn’t do it, Tom Osborne should give them a lesson in integrity and take the first step. Nebraska should not be a part of this mess in any form. By not showing, forfeit or not, they will not allow Joe Paterno the satisfaction of being cheered and hailed as a hero.

Daniel on 11/9/2011 @ 5:03pm EDT Said:

Scott, well put!!!

randsco on 11/9/2011 @ 5:07pm EDT Said:

I will not allow the despicable actions of one man to define my University, football team or legendary coach. Joe Paterno reported the incident immediately, to his superiors, just like he is supposed to do. That the administration didn’t take action is not Joe’s fault.

There are over 100 players on this year’s Penn State football team. Not one of them had ANYTHING to do with these horrific events. Why should they be punished by not being able to play a significant game on this year’s schedule? Suggesting that is ludicrous. These young men have worked hard, have done nothing wrong and are deserving of both respect and support. I will give it to them. Contrary to what the media would like the world to believe … We are still … Penn State.

Bryan on 11/9/2011 @ 5:12pm EDT Said:

The fact that there are Penn State fans out there who continue support Joe Pa to the bitter end as if he is untouchable is harder to fathom than the fact that Joe and everyone else in that university pushed this under the rug for 10years. Are you guys really that blindly devoted to some football coach that you don’t find it wrong that he didn’t call the police on a pedophile? And having rallys and everything else for this guy is insane. The game should be played because it wouldn’t be fair to the players or Nebraska to cancel it, but there is no way Joe Pa or McQueery should be on the sideline (or in the pressbox). I hope PSU loses every game the rest of the season as long as JP remains its coach. GBR!!

KJ on 11/9/2011 @ 5:15pm EDT Said:

I agree–I was thinking yesterday that the season should be cancelled. The fact that this was covered up by anyone who had the power to end it before more kids’ lives were destroyed is disgusting, from McQuery to Paterno on up, and that they did so to protect Penn State appalls me. They should force Paterno to resign effective immediately and forfeit all remaining games. Does it punish the players, who had nothing to do with it? Sure. Is it fair? No. But it’s not fair that kids got raped while adults stood by and did nothing, and that’s way more important than a football team, game or season. Penn State did nothing to protect itself and its football team–and that football team shouldn’t be able to just go on pretending like nothing happened.

    Tom Dienhart, BTN.com Senior Writer on 11/9/2011 @ 5:32pm EDT Said:

    What we are witnessing is unprecedented, in my mind. This isn’t about $100 handshakes, bogus summer jobs, free tattoos or cheating on the ACT. This is criminal behavior that is horrific and sordid beyond belief. How about focusing on the REAL victims: The abused kids and their families. Football seems SO trivial at this point.

KJ on 11/9/2011 @ 5:18pm EDT Said:

randsco–it wasn’t despicable actions by just one man. Every individual who stood by and did nothing while knowing that a naked old man was fooling around with naked young boys committed a despicable action. They allowed other children to fall prey to a predator. To me, and most of the country, that’s despicable.

Mike S on 11/9/2011 @ 5:22pm EDT Said:

Anyone who defends Joe Pa or Penn State on this needs their moral compass checked. I’m absolutely disgusted with Penn State.

Dan- you’re really going to defend Paterno?? Seriously? If your son/nephew/godchild etc was being abused in the showers by an adult and someone witnessed would you be ok if that person just told the perp’s boss???? Who in their SANE mind would NOT call the police?

Who cares about football/senior day or “punishing the innocent”? Did today’s USC players or coaches accept $$/housing? No but they received reduced scholarships and bowl bans. This situation is 10 million times worse and all the writer asked for was to think about ONE single game to be cancelled. Get real.

    Tom Dienhart, BTN.com Senior Writer on 11/9/2011 @ 5:39pm EDT Said:

    Penn State is stained forever. What a way to end a career. And, still, few mention the abused kids, instead worrying and fretting about if the 18-22 year old Penn State football players will get gypped out of playing a few football games and fans can’t tailgate and shake their pom-poms on a Saturday. Laughable. Get some perspective.

CK on 11/9/2011 @ 5:23pm EDT Said:

randsco-If you do exactly what Joe Paterno did, and report the information to only your superiors, and more innocent children are abused, how do you look at yourself in the mirror? If McQueary and Paterno had turned Sandusky into the police, when they had even an inkling of this—then there’s a great chance the list of victims would have been much smaller. Just that solitary action might have put the wheels in motion to put this guy away in 2002.

bugeaterr on 11/9/2011 @ 5:24pm EDT Said:

Have the game.
The players had nothing to do with this.
HOWEVER, Joe and anyone who covered this up should step aside IMMEDIATELY in disgrace. Those of you who disagree should spend Saturday afternoon at a home for battered and molested children. Come Saturday evening, perhaps you will have developed a basic sense of right and wrong.

    Tom Dienhart, BTN.com Senior Writer on 11/9/2011 @ 5:30pm EDT Said:

    True, the players have had nothing to do with the sordid events that are unfolding. But the current USC players also had nothing to do with the Reggie Bush violations, yet the current Trojans can’t go to a bowl because of it. Is it all fair? No. But, life isn’t fair. If the only casualty on the field is some Penn State players missing 3-4 games, it’s not a big deal. If the players or fans are upset, they can go complain to Paterno, Curley and Spanier, their trusted leaders.

Mike S on 11/9/2011 @ 5:35pm EDT Said:

Tom- I’m a huge Husker fan and I honestly feel our team should forfeit if PSU does not. This game is going to turn into a Joe Pa “pep rally” and that’s a slap in the face to all of the children who were abused.

Football games come and go, but I think Tom Osborne can take the high road and show PSU how to run an Athletic Deparment. NO SHOW.

Brad on 11/9/2011 @ 5:36pm EDT Said:

Sandusky’s actions are horrifying, no doubt. However the fact that Sandusky was seen by a Penn State football grad assistant rape a young boy in 2002 in the football facility, reported at least sexually inappropriate behavior to Joe Pa the next day, and Sandusky is still allowed access to the facility as late as last week is almost as bad. Joe reported what he knew to Curley within a couple of days and then what? Nothing, that’s what. What did Joe think when no police showed up to interview McQuery, talk to him, or interview anyone else inthe program. And 9 years later Sandusky is still allowed around the program. Your attitude is exactly what will stain the Penn State program and Happy Valley for decades. Denial and obfuscation will not restore what it took 40 years to build. Shouting we are Penn State only makes matters worse.

Walter E on 11/9/2011 @ 5:43pm EDT Said:

I wonder if one of the children was JoePa’s grandchild, he would have taken the same steps?

Sad day, there is no fix to this situation but an example of morality by the University would be a good first step. Oh wait, that should have been done how many years ago?

nchicago on 11/9/2011 @ 5:47pm EDT Said:

Here is a situational ethic question for you…You are a 6’4″ 260 lb former college football player who observes a 60 yo man sodomizing a 10 yo child…what do you do? A) Beat said 60 yo within an inch of his life, and protect child. Later notify police of your justifiable actions. B) Call ur dad, and ur boss. I say anyone who choses option B is a COWARD. Second situational ethic question… You are the operations manager of a major corporation (that happens to be engaed in the business of college football), an employee of urs shows up on ur doorstep on a saturday morning in a tizzy explaining to you that he walked into the mens room yesterday and saw a former employee sodomizing a 10 year old child, what do you do? A) Notify police, B) Notify the ceo and never follow up again to make sure children are protected in the future. Anyone that chooses option B is a COWARD. Saturday Joe Paterno has the opportunity to tie Amos Alonzo Stagg for the last major choaching record that has not fallen to JoePa…the record for the most games coached. Please, Penn State, please deny this record to this COWARD. Not by cancelling the game, but by removing this man from the premises of your campus. This inaction by Joe Paterno makes him as culpable as the assailant…he may as well have sodomized these kids himself.

All that is necessary for evil to triumph is for good men to do nothing

Tim on 11/9/2011 @ 5:51pm EDT Said:

@Randy W: I take issue with your comment about Tom Osbourne teaching JoePa about integrity. Turn back the clock to the mid 90’s. There was no integrity being shown when Lawrence Phillips was reinstated to the team after beating the snot out of his girlfriend.

Huskernoxious on 11/9/2011 @ 5:53pm EDT Said:

It would be a disgrace to play the game. The Penn State are just part of learning a very difficult lesson. They should no longer support Paterno in any way. Since he’s the boss, he’s responsible for any young men being abused after he was notified. He’s disgusting. As are all of the rest who were involved. If I were a player’s parent, I wouldn’t let my son play in the game and recognize Paterno as a ‘hero’. How sad for those who think so.

Huskerfan on 11/9/2011 @ 5:57pm EDT Said:

I am sick over this. I don’t think I can watch the game. Football is supposed to be FUN. There is no fun in this saturday’s game with PSU.

michael steel on 11/9/2011 @ 5:57pm EDT Said:

For all the arguing about football, it just shows how little perspective anyone has in this. We are arguing about cancelling a game? Are you kidding me?! The media has turned this into a circus and you Mr. Tom Dienhart disgust me for promoting it. It shows just how little you understand about what sports and camaraderie mean to people. Continuing the season allows hundreds of thousands to escape from this heinous situation for more than a moment. In a world where so much bad stuff happens already, why make it worse for the players, fans and alums who have nothing to do with this situation. Let them be. They are not foul creatures. They are not misguided. They are human beings looking for a light at the end of this dark moment in Happy Valley. You are no better than a person prosecuted for libel or a capitalistic pig pouncing on a juicy opportunity to make an extra penny. Keep your mismanaged opinions out of Penn State’s business. Your comments that prey on a community in pain are not welcomed.

Jason B on 11/9/2011 @ 5:59pm EDT Said:

A couple of thoughts. I believe Joe Paterno has 16 grandchildren. I wonder if he allowed any of them to spend time alone with Sandusky since 2002. If Joe Paterno was not comfortable enough letting his own grandchildren spend time with Sandusky, why would he allow him to be on campus? One group of people we seem to be leaving out are the current football players for Penn State. It would seem to me that they could be the “grown ups” in this situation and say that they do not want to play for Joe Paterno this Saturday. That statement could restore a lot of pride in the University as well as quiet a lot of the critics who feel they know what is best.

S Pierce on 11/9/2011 @ 6:01pm EDT Said:

Another perspective Mr. Dienhart. (Not written by me)


Dan on 11/9/2011 @ 6:05pm EDT Said:

I tell you what. Calling people out on their moral compass is a great way to go. Punishing the players is not the way to go. I’ve already said my peace on Joe’s remaining tenure, but if the BOT determines tonight he must go, then let him go. But don’t punish the players. They had nothing to do with this.

J Dub on 11/9/2011 @ 6:09pm EDT Said:

Paterno was the one individual in State College that easily should of when to the law, but he didn’t that is solely on him and is a reflection of unbelievely poor judgement (personal, moral, and ethical). McQuerry running away and not going to the aid and rescuse of the child is beyond the pale and again a piss poor reflection on the individual’s judgement (personal, moral and ethical). It’s time to completely clean house in not so happy valley. No, I do not believe Paterno should be allowed to finish the season on the sideline nor should McQuerry (or anywhere in Beaver Statium for that matter).

Tyler on 11/9/2011 @ 6:11pm EDT Said:

Penn State fans disgust me. This was an incredibly well written article, with the perspective of 99% of the nation in mind. This game should not be played. The fact that the student body at Penn State was ignorant enough to show up on Paterno’s lawn and cheer for him is proof they don’t deserve to have a football season finished. By cheering for Paterno, you are cheering for brushing things under the rug. And If i read one more comment about Paterno doing “the right thing by reporting to the AD” and it’s not his fault I am going to lose my mind.

He had a MORAL OBLIGATION to follow up on the matter to ensure the police were involved. He had a MORAL OBLIGATION to not allow a Penn-State-ophile to return to campus. He was seen numerous times after that incident was reported with children on campus. And he was there just last week in the gym. Come on. Paterno is a coward looking to protect his name. And if he isn’t forced out by this Friday the whole country will view your institution as a joke.

to S Pierce on 11/9/2011 @ 6:11pm EDT Said:

Great article thanks. Many in the media like Tom should read this.

Karli on 11/9/2011 @ 6:22pm EDT Said:

As a current Penn State student, I understand the national outrage. A legendary football program will be forever tainted by the inaction of those in charge. But seriously, is that what you media people have to focus on? I beg you to separate the school, the team, the students and community, from the people who made these tragic errors. Already, 2 friends of mine have worn Penn State apparel (one in California and one in New York), and have been cursed at in public by strangers, and accused of having poor morals. Are you kidding me? Labeling our entire community as a whole is wrong. Please be reasonable in this whole situation and point fingers only at those who didn’t stop these heinous crimes. (Yes, this includes JoePa) The media has made this story into what it wants to and I am disgusted by it. WE ARE still PENN STATE! We are proud in the integrity we have here, and I would like to stress that football may be the face of our school and community, but it does not define all of us.
By the way, we are more heartbroken and saddened by this than those of you who are not part of this amazing Penn State community. Penn State is dear to my heart, and what I once held so dear will never be the same. I want justice for the families and individuals involved, and I want punishment for those who allowed this to continue. However, punishing the community, the school, the students and the fans, will not right this. Take your anger out on those who deserve it, not me.
This Saturday I hope there is a game. It is THON day, and that is where you can see our Penn State Pride showcased. WeAre, and forever will be, PennState.

Dave on 11/9/2011 @ 6:31pm EDT Said:

Tom is absolutely correct. I am a husker fan and hate the idea of not playing this game, but it also feels wrong to play it. Those who continue to support JoePa need to take a step back and consider what they are supporting. Anyone who uses the legal over moral argument is very misguided. How any human being can have knowledge of such acts and not take all appropriate action is something I cannot fathum. God bless the children and families involved. GBR

Mark on 11/9/2011 @ 6:51pm EDT Said:

Well put Tom, these crimes happened because of the football program’s prominance and the school should put things in proper perspective by cancelling the rest of the season. Even more telling than the Grand Jury testimony which pointed out that Paterno knew exactly what the GA saw and heard, is the fact that Paterno sits on the Board of the Second Mile program and allowed Sandusty to continue his activities there for 8 more years.
Cancel the season, clean up the mess and start over again next year.

Scott Dickson on 11/9/2011 @ 6:56pm EDT Said:

In response to all responses……again we all make human error mistakes…God knows I have made mine….”to error is human to forgive is devine!”…..It will be a long time before this episode of immorality will wear off…I feel extremely sorry for Happy Valley , Penn State, its students, faculty(not involved) and players who put their trust in coaches. However, this is NOT a win one for the Gipper episode of college football Saturday. Someone mentioned that Osborne should take the lead and cancel the game. There is not where the decision lies because then you would put the fans and players of Nebraska to suffer with nothing they are involved with. I still go back to the best solution for Paterno to talk to the students, faculty,community, and fans and tell them that for the best of the program and community that he will step down and not coach the team…..He could make a general announcement and prayer before the game starts to the fans and attendees that the game is being played as not to punish the players and fans but that he feels in the schools best interest that he steps aside and allows those not involved to coach. It is not asking too much for this coach to do so. It will by no means determine his outcome of how he will be held in his reputation as coach. That has already been done. For those of you who believe Paterno has done no wrong should ask yourself that question….. if you had kids and they had been sexually assaulted what would be your reaction? Now answer that honestly and you will see where we who are asking for Joe to do the right thing will understand…….Then the others you can go out there and strip to your waste and paint the letters Paterno on your bellies and show your allegiance. I believe that Paterno has been a great coach but he has made a mistake and needs to take responsibilty for his actions. I am a Nebraska fan and do not want to see the game cancelled, but I would not go out and tailgate and party before the game. play this game in memory for those victims who have been abused and again put together some type of fund and renumeration for those injured..Maybe wear some type of band or patch to show your respect for the victims. Maybe Nebraska could take the lead here!

Chris on 11/9/2011 @ 6:59pm EDT Said:

Joe knew much earlier than 2002. In 98, Sandusky was investigated by PSU police and admitted over the phone (on tape!) to a mother that he molested her boy. Charges, mysteriously, were never filed and suddenly Paterno tells Sandusky to retire and scram.

Any Penn St fan or grad with integrity would want Paterno and company fired immediately. The longer you stick with him, the more you will wear his shame for the decades that follow: “Penn State? oh that’s the place where the football coaches look the other way at child rape”

Billy Chase on 11/9/2011 @ 7:05pm EDT Said:

Don’t cancel this game please. In 2002 when this all took place. Penn State beat the crap out on Nebraska (the last time they played). Nine years in the making for the Huskers to get revenge and you think they should cancel. Leave it to the law to levy punishments to the abusers. Leave it to the counselers and civil courts to make just to the accusors. But leave it to the Huskers to kick some butts for the humiliation to Nebraska back when all this happened. And further more, why did it take so many years for not one of the eight victims to come forward?

Nick on 11/9/2011 @ 7:08pm EDT Said:

Post-pone the game, “out of respect for the victims and the families”?? Like if they post-pone the game all of the sudden the victims are going to forget what happened to them? What will postponing the game or cancelling accomplish? Nothing. Don’t punish the players and the fans for something they had nothing to do with. And I’m getting sick of everyone focusing on JoePa and Spanier. What about the SICKO that did this? He barely even gets mentioned by the media. The whole situation is a mess. I feel sorry for the victims.

john o on 11/9/2011 @ 7:12pm EDT Said:

Hindsight is 20/20. Perhaps JoePa had been told: if stuff happens let the boss know, period. don’t hesitate, do it! it’s unfair to look at this after the fact. Joe reported it, he didn’t try to hide it!, the guy was no longer under his employ. i am a Nebraska fan, I am angry about the abuse – it’s sickening. it’s of less importance, but I am also upset about the game. how do you play this game now?

BruceF on 11/9/2011 @ 7:21pm EDT Said:

My son was “groomed” by a couple sophisticated child molesters – one an attorney – and the other a “hip” politico; they molested him from 14 on and he committed suicide at 19. The real focus, in this instance, should be on the undoubtedly numerous – I would project in the hundreds – of Sandusky victims. Similar to how, for example, a thief gets caught and prosecuted for a very small percentage of crimes, so too it is for child molesters. And they never stop. And it has been going on most of his adult life. And he has been miserable the whole time and now – caught – feels a weird sense of relief and vindication now that everyone knows.

The young boys and now, many of them young men, need attention, counseling and help. Some of them will be messed up for life, no matter what is done. Many of them will become drug addicts or alcoholics. Most of them will find it very difficult to be happy. Many of them will not come forward and will just unhappily live with what happened until they die.

The huge thing that has changed within them is that before they could trust adults and now they will have a hard time trusting anyone. One must trust another in most of life’s facets in order for any kind of a relationship to evolve. Molested children have a horrible time in this area.

Having said all of this, I don’t think the game should get cancelled. I don’t believe this would be fair to both universities, the students, the players and the fans. The actions a few – although a very important “few” – should not govern this decision.

Charles Cooper on 11/9/2011 @ 7:33pm EDT Said:

“All of those years of image building, of painting an idyllic picture of a staid university that plays by the rules and is nestled in a nirvana dubbed “Happy Valley” has been trashed in minutes.”

This is a totally erroneous statement. This trashing has been occurring over many years. Who knows when it started, but we do know it became knowledge to Paterno and his Curley at least as far back as 2003, and probably since 1998.

If the correct action had been taken by them when they first knew of these crimes, Penn State’s good name probably would never have been trashed at all. It is the inaction of those in charge that have trashed that name, not so much the actions of the vile, disgusting Sandusky. Sure, his actions are what started the controversy, but if the situation had been handled appropriately, those on the hotseat now would have been exonerated from the beginning, along with the institution.

gary on 11/9/2011 @ 7:36pm EDT Said:

1. paterno is not the board of trustees, he is an employee.
2. the board of trustees should, during the investigation, prohibit Paterno and anyone else implicated from stepping on campus or in anyway representing P state
3. If Pen State is not willing to cancel the Ne game they should move it to Lincoln or a neutral site. ANY game at Happy Valley will turn into an affirmation of Paterno in the face of this travesty.,

Jessica E on 11/9/2011 @ 7:44pm EDT Said:

Thank you Tom for writing a great article and putting the focus on the important issue at hand, the victim’s. It’s about time everyone stopped worrying about Joe Pa. As head coach, he had an obligation to step up and move forward when he saw that his superiors weren’t going to. He made a choice not too and now his beloved PSU is going to pay financially

gary on 11/9/2011 @ 7:47pm EDT Said:

4. Nebraska should consider whether or not it wants to be associated with Penn State…. Nebraska should consider a public statement “in support of the victims we reluctantly accept our responsibility to society and decline to play a game which the Penn State board of trustees knowlingly will allow to turn into a pep rally for the instigators of their torture”.

Jon Morgan on 11/9/2011 @ 7:52pm EDT Said:

Cancel this game? What do a thousand plus Nebraska fans do with non refundable airline tickets? Maybe still come and enjoy the Happy Valley hospitality and bask in the warm weather….NOT!!!

greg baker on 11/9/2011 @ 8:00pm EDT Said:

Nebraska should not play Penn State this weekend as long as Joe Paterno remains its head coach. Although offering condolences to the families in his retirement statement, Joe shows his true allegiance in the end of his statement. In his statement, he avows allegiance the institution of Penn State; rather than speed the healing process by resigning immediately, Joe continues to pursue self-aggrandizement by insisting on finishing a winning season. There are no winners in this situation, least of all the abused children. Joe Paterno’s current focus on a football season is consistent with his prior actions—in which he prioritized sports over human decency—and reveals his true character.

kpsf63 on 11/9/2011 @ 8:10pm EDT Said:

There are still far too many unknowns I understand these were innocent kids were seriously abused, however, players had nothing to do with it. In fact, all of this took place prior to them arriving @ Penn st. Canceling the game is not going to help the victims.

Additionally, everyone should keep in mind this was a small group of people that did nothing. Lots of good people at PSU.

Pete on 11/9/2011 @ 8:31pm EDT Said:

The only way I could see the game this weekend being played is if Joe Paterno is retired and off the field today and certainly no later than tomorrow. His legendary status is forever tarnished by not having made the honorable, moral and just decision by going to the authorities when the the Sandusky actions very first came to light. It was his personal obligation to do so without question or hesitation. There is no excuse for any other action. Paterno admits wrongdoing by his decision to retire at the end of the season. He should not be allowed to exit on his timetable regardless of the legendary perceptions many may have of him. The crime committed is repulsive and can not be reasoned away with his having remained silent, until forced otherwise. If the catholic cardinals and bishops cannot be excused for their silence, and they shouldn’t, then neither should Joe Paterno. Legal is simply one issue and only a word at that for not accepting responsibilty to speak up when it was required at the time of the crime. But honor, moral, or justice is another and immediately resigning is the only way I could ever consider keeping any respect that Joe Paterno may deserve.

Watcher on 11/9/2011 @ 9:54pm EDT Said:

The University failed the players. They had to know this was coming and yet their response was utterly inadequate which only served to fan the flames. The Board of Trustees are responding as if they were completely blindsided. The lack of outrage and blind worship by the students towards Paterno – they held a PEP RALLY – makes the situation worse. Yes, one bad act truly CAN wipe away 40 years of good. If Paterno cares about his players more than himself, he will not be at that game nor any future ones. He will not get cheers but rather derision and more folks will be focused on him than on the players. He can come back in a couple of years and get honored – maybe when he has redeemed himself a bit by testifying. As for the game, if any of the named persons are there, if the students continue their hero worship of a man who had all the power to stop this and chose not to, then that will hurt the players and the school’s reputation even more.

Scott Dickson on 11/9/2011 @ 10:14pm EDT Said:

I have another solution. I believe that there should be an immediate meeting of all the Athletic Directors to band together to not allow Paterno to coach this game. Becoming unified is the best solution to having Paterno resign. My feeling is that Joe will do the only thing right and step down on the basis of not fulfilling his moral obligation to the victims….If any of those victims were molested after he was aware of the situation the he has become a part of those crimes…..Come on Joe resign!

mike on 11/9/2011 @ 10:24pm EDT Said:

What are WE going to do to help? WE being everyone but the perpetrators or the victims. In every problem lies an opportunity. Can we join in commitment to taking action necessary a) to significantly reducing future child abuse and b) helping child abuse victims? Of course WE can. This event has been a catalyst in bringing attention, sorrow, furry and let it also be the catalyst that brings WE the good people, of Penn State, of the BIG 10 and of the world together to light the candle to extinguish this sickness from our world. It will not be easy and it will not be quick, but by transitioning our fury, emotions and time that we are giving it even in this brief moment in time towards initiating a new war against this heinous crime. How many millions of people are now incensed by this? What can WE contribute in time, in money, in support? Let’s take action necessary to increase punishment for child abusers and for failing to report; let’s enact laws that require all institutions to employ tough measures mandating all child abuse is reported fully and immediately to police; let’s find out how to better help victims, those who can come forward and those who just keep it hidden inside…there must be ways. How much do we spend on football…on sports? How can we get this started? Where can we pledge our support and money? Can Penn State University, the University of Nebraska and the BIG 10 pledge there proceeds from this game? Can the media help get out a “Football fans Against Child Abuse”…or more… “We The People for All Our CHILDREN” (or other better tag) message out and help funnel our energies? Lets not fight each other Lets fight Child abuse! Come on…let’s knock child abuse out cold! We can do it! Who knows how to get this properly organized? Starting with football fans against child abuse! I am sure that all the players from both teams would love to know this game is dedicated to stomping out child abuse! Maybe all the players could make a unity statement together at the 50 before kickoff! I think like me you were a football fan yesterday and will be tomorrow…but for now you want to be a participant in steamrolling child abuse!

Scott Dickson on 11/9/2011 @ 10:30pm EDT Said:

Done and over with…The board of regents did the right thing Paterno has been fired!

Jeff on 11/9/2011 @ 10:58pm EDT Said:

Matt Millen nailed it…if we can’t protect our children what kind of society are we? Nothing, not even our passion for sport or school, should justify minimizing the heinous actions taken by someone on Joe’s staff on Joe’s campus. He may “legally” dodge this bullet but morally he’s proven that he is no different that those before him him that put ego and pride before value and morality. He was informed, kicked the can down the road and did nothing to see that authorities investigated the legitimacy of the accusations. We know that at least eight young men (boys) will be forever scarred because they trusted…sleep well on your records Mr. Paterno.

Matt on 11/10/2011 @ 9:48am EDT Said:


Nebraska fan here. I’m going to Happy Valley, but after the riots (following Joe Pa’s firing), I’m seriously concerned for my safety. And let’s be honest here–while Penn State was no Colorado, they don’t exactly have a stellar reputation with visiting fanbases to begin with.

In the interest of fan safety, both for Nebraska and Penn State fans, this game should be called off by Penn State. If Nebraska wins (figured the game was a toss-up before all this broke out), it will only exacerbate and inflame an already volatile situation.

Please implore your new employers to do the right thing, and call the game off. I’m willing to eat the tickets in the name of doing what’s right.

    Tom Dienhart, BTN.com Senior Writer on 11/10/2011 @ 10:20am EDT Said:

    I think you all know my opinion on the subject. At the least, I think this game should be postponed. At the worst, I think Penn State should shutdown its season. This is a hot situation, a tinder box that could explode even more with a Penn State loss. Is a football game REALLY the appropriate thing to be focused on at this moment at Penn State?

Stephen on 11/10/2011 @ 11:11am EDT Said:

our article FAILS to present a balanced perspective. Like most other media responses it assumes the guilt of Jerry Sandusky. Yes, I have read the Grand Jury report, and I also have read many other grand jury reports and I am aware that they are not always as they appear.

Let me ask you a question:

Do you REALLY think that Joe Paterno or any other decent human being would have done nothing if they were in possession of credible evidence that children were being abused?

Why is it so hard for all the media to believe that the Grand Jury report may not be accurate and that Jerry Sandusky is innocent as he claims to be.

The issue that should also be discussed by ALL REPORTERS in connection with this case (as in the Duke case) is the real dominance and unchecked power that prosecutor’s across this country have over the indictment process. Some will argue that a trial before a jury is a check to this power, which ultimately may be true. However, in this day of immediate media coverage and electronic access to public records revealing pending criminal charges, a felony indictment alone can destroy a reputation and a career.

”The grand jury is an integral part of our constitutional heritage which was brought to this country with the common law. The Framers, most of them trained in the English law and traditions, accepted the grand jury as a basic guarantee of individual liberty; notwithstanding periodic criticism, much of which is superficial, overlooking relevant history, the grand jury continues to function as a barrier to reckless or unfounded charges . . . . Its historic office has been to provide a shield against arbitrary or oppressive action, by insuring that serious criminal accusations will be brought only upon the considered judgment of a representative body of citizens acting under oath and under judicial instruction and guidance.” United States v. Mandujano, 425 U.S. 564, 571 (1976) (plurality opinion).

Grand juries are to operate under the direction but not the control of the prosecutor. However, in reality prosecutors in almost every jurisdiction in this country have unfettered control over the indictment process. They are the gatekeepers of all information that is presented to the grand jury. They are often the only individuals present other than the jurors themselves. They submit the “evidence”, which can contain facts and statements traditionally inadmissible before a court at trial, and they make the only arguments. Their version of the case is completely uncontested and one-sided. The defense has no right to present evidence to the grand jury or to have a lawyer present. Witnesses who testify before the grand jury have no right to have a lawyer present with them before the grand jury. In fact, there is no one present, or any mechanism in place, to prevent a prosecutor from misleading a grand jury, whether by direct falsehood or by the omission of exculpatory evidence, to get an indictment. There is no judge or moderator to guarantee that the evidence presented is fair, accurate and complete.

Sadly, it has been said, and it is true, that even an inexperienced prosecutor can convince a grand jury to indict a ham sandwich.

In the initial stages of a prosecution, when a decision is made to indict an individual for a criminal offense, it is of fundamental importance to the functioning of our criminal justice system that prosecutors be dedicated to Truth and Justice. However, whether it is a result of indifference, immense case loads, a jaded belief that everyone who encounters law enforcement must be guilty, or most sinister, personal motivations outside the pursuit of justice, people are wrongly indicted in this country every day.

As is apparent from the Duke case, from the uncomfortably large number of wrongly convicted people being cleared by DNA evidence after years of incarceration, or from countless reported cases involving prosecutorial misconduct, prosecutors often disregard their incredible power and their corresponding responsibility when presenting a case before the grand jury. They forget the harm their abandonment of the search for justice can have upon the confidence given our criminal justice system, not to mention the devastation of being wrongly accused and convicted.

You as well as everyone in the MEDIA need to respond with greater deliberation.

Shame on you!

Salt Life on 11/10/2011 @ 11:13am EDT Said:

I applaud the Penn State Board of Trustees for doing the right thing, the only thing they could. Both Paterno and Spanier deserve to be fired and castigated for their moral inaction or lack of sufficient action back in 2002, which allowed a monster to continue to roam free to molest and rape many more innocent State College children in last 9 years. That is just unconscionable and unforgivable. Joe Pa has rightfully lost the respect of millions of people around the country and his football legacy will understandably be severely tainted and tarnished. Actions of Penn State students rioting in support of such a shameful figurehead is likewise appalling.

Mike on 11/10/2011 @ 12:21pm EDT Said:

You can see that emotion is flying all over the place with these comments. You are protecting your man JoePa as expected but to think that what he did was enough is ludicrous!!!!! He even said he should have done more! What a disgrace to protect a man that is just as guilty as the man commiting the crime! JoePa allowed this to continue for many years so he could obtain his personal goals and that is sick!!! There will be fallout over this and I am sure JoePa will have to answer a lot of questions! This game should NOT be played because of the safety of the visiting team and fans can be in jeapordy!

MNHusker on 11/10/2011 @ 12:27pm EDT Said:

JoePa knew of and allowed serious crimes to be committed in his locker-room without notifying the authorities. We all have an obligation to report a crime such as this, and Joe simply did not. For that serious error in judgement, he will pay.

That’s the bottom line and not much more needs to be said. Tradition, wins, records, none of them have anything to do with this situation.

Jeff on 11/10/2011 @ 12:32pm EDT Said:

If this happened on any other campus the coach and everyone else would have been gone years ago but because this is JoePa and a major college football program this sick freak was allowed to continue to be on campus and go about his day to day business raping little boys and JoePa knew about this as well as the “chain of command” as everyone likes to say! This is as disgusting as it gets and why on earth would a man in his mid 80’s still be coaching???? Something is seriously wrong in Penn St. country!!! I heard a clip of JoePa on tv yesterday and you couldn’t understand a word coming out of his mouth! Hell they used subtitles!!! You have major major problems and to play this game is an absolute slap in the face of all the children that get raped in this country! You are more concerned about winning games than the safety of children! You all make me sick!!!!!!! I say Nebraska should not travel and show soliderity to the families of the victims! I have no doubt that dozenz and dozens of people were aware of what was going on but refused to say anything to protect their hero and program! For the safety of the visiting fans I say, “CANCEL THIS GAME!”

natedogg on 11/10/2011 @ 12:58pm EDT Said:

For those of you who are giving JoPa the “underserved affection”… ask yourself this… if you knew JoPa knew that your litte brother or son was raped by a 60 year old man and did not turn it in the the police…. what would you do…?

AJ on 11/10/2011 @ 1:05pm EDT Said:

To Michael Steel & everyone else who thinks the media is over blowing this…YOU DISGUST ME! Joe enabled a child molester, PERIOD! Forget football, especially Penn State football…I hope they cancel the game so folks like yourself have time to THINK THINK THINK about the boy who was RAPED in the Penn State showers & how his life is ruined! You want to play football to escape from this?

JC on 11/12/2011 @ 6:54am EDT Said:

One point not discussed anywhere is the lack of Division 1 competition here in Pennsylvania which partially is responsible for the godlike stature of Penn State football. Currently there are only three Division 1 teams in this state (Temple and Pittsburgh being the others). We in Pennsylvania have an asinine college system where we have a number of regional schools belonging to a State System (which do not play Division 1 athletics) as well as 20 (!) branch campuses of Penn State (which do not play any sports). If we had a normal university system in this state (like Texas and most other states outside of the Northeast) the Penn State football program would never had gotten out of hand as it is currently and has been ever since JoePa took over!

    Tom Dienhart, BTN.com Senior Writer on 11/12/2011 @ 12:02pm EDT Said:

    I don’t think a lack of other DI programs is cause of Paterno getting deity status. JoePa was allowed to get too big and too powerful, and Penn State’s leaders weren’t strong enough to stand up to him. THAT was the issue. With JoePa so big and powerful, it all became about protecting him and the school’s image instead of doing what was right. Sad that PSU and Paterno were more worried about protecting their image than protecting defenseless kids.